End of an Era… I Hope

Today, the Twins announced that they outrighted 4 players off the 40-man roster: pitcher Anthony Slama, catcher Rene Rivera, infielder Matt Tolbert, and outfielder Jason Repko.

First of all, I’m disappointed but not shocked by the Twins removing Slama from the roster. He’s always been the guy that could never gain the Twins’ trust, despite his ability to dominant the minor leagues. Certainly his stuff was nothing special, but he had a little funk in his delivery that made it difficult for hitters to hit his fastball and slurve. Throw in the fact that he hurt his elbow around the same time as Kyle Gibson, and it sounds like 2012 would have been a lost year for him anyway. He’ll probably end up needing Tommy John surgery just like Gibson, and if he does, he won’t be back until he’s 29 years old. Looks like he will be a lost cause.

Second, the Twins are letting go the one hitter on their roster that managed to suck worse than Drew Butera. I wish I was kidding, but yes, Rene Rivera really was that bad. Butera managed to “swat” .167/.210/.239 in 234 at-bats, while Rivera put together a .144/.211/.202 line in a little less than half the playing time. He was lauded for his work with Francisco Liriano, but honestly, I think it was just one of the few things in the list of pros put together by guys like Dick ‘n’ Bert to justify the Twins carrying another light hitting catcher on the roster.

Hopefully the Twins have a better backup plan behind Joe Mauer, because I’m starting to jump off the Butera bandwagon. Undoing the Ramos – Capps trade is a ship that sailed long ago, and we can continue complaining about Jose Morales being traded to the Colorado Rockies, but hey, even the Rockies didn’t want Morales that much as they outrighted him off of their 40-man roster 9 days ago.

I must admit that I’m a little surprised by Jason Repko being removed, though the Twins had a cheaper, younger, and better option emerge in Ben Revere. He had value in being a defensive replacement, but considering his bat isn’t much and Delmon Young will likely be replaced by Revere, there’s just not any reason to keep Repko now. If Michael Cuddyer is re-signed, Repko would have been a good defensive replacement for him, but the Twins coaches seem to think that Cuddyer is adequate defensively, despite the evidence to the contrary (-6.6 UZR/150 in right field in his career). But, keeping someone on the roster just to be a personal defensive replacement for a single player isn’t worth it, and thus I’m fine with Repko leaving.

Finally, the biggest surprise I have lies within the removal of Matt Tolbert. Always seen as one of “Gardy’s guys,” he’s never really shown anything that justified him having a major league job, with the exception that he always hustled. He was probably part of the reason why the Twins didn’t seriously attempt to re-sign Nick Punto last year, but they weren’t expecting Tolbert’s offense to fall of a cliff. Tolbert leaves with about a full season’s worth of at-bats, and his 0.3 career WAR demonstrates how Tolbert was practically the exact definition of the abstract “replacement level player.” Let’s hope that the middle infielder chosen (doomed?) to fill his shoes can actually do something well for a change.

3 Responses to “End of an Era… I Hope”

  1. Josh Says:

    The best thing Bill Smith could do this off-season is to listen to just himself and his most trusted talent evaluator.

    The Twins suck most when they listen to Gardy and his wishes for scrappy, quick slap hitters and average repertoire, pitch-to-contact pitchers. If Gardy had it his way, there would be 13 Nick Punto’s and 12 Brad Radke’s. Each player is very necessary, but stacking a team with those good, but not dominant skill-sets create mediocre or abysmal squads (e.g. this year).

    The same thing happens when you listen to players, too. Remember what Mauer and Morneau had to say about Dusty Hughes? We all saw his stats and bemoaned his roster spot after spring training, but all the Twins focused on was a ridiculous and lucky sample size.

    If Smith wants to save his job, he has to construct this team in the best way HE sees fit. Let Gardy assemble the puzzle after he is given the pieces. Let’s see if Billy has learned from his many, many mistakes and can create something that works this time.

    • Bryz Says:

      Here’s what I’m worried about, however. I believe Bill Smith has admitted himself that he is more of an executive than a talent evaluator. That’s probably why he’s taking the input from Gardy and the players and people below him, because he doesn’t actually know how good/bad the players are on his own. In some ways, this might be frightening to hear, that the general manager of a team (whose job is mostly to put together a playoff- or championship-caliber team) can’t even evaluate talent. But on the flip side, it sounds like he might be good with negotiating contracts, which is certainly critical as well (Vernon Wells, anyone?).

      I wouldn’t say he needs to trust himself, but I think he needs to become smarter when it comes to listening what everyone wants.

      • Josh Says:

        Well if he can’t manage a damn off-season and roster, then what is the point of him being a GM? I hear Rob Antony is fantastic with contracts, so Smith’s big “skill” is superfluous.

        Since Smith is self-proclaimed operational guru, he should swap with Mike Radcliff who is clearly a better talent evaluator.

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